Duolingo Japanese Walkthrough (Part 2 – Intro 1)

Duolingo Japanese Walkthrough (Part 2)

INTRODUCTION - ONE

This section covers a lot of new material including grammar, reading & writing, and best of all, new phrases! You may notice at first the literal translations may not make sense to your English speaking mind. My tip is to focus on the meaning of each phrase rather than the direct translation.

*See below for what's covered within this walkthrough.

SUBJECTS COVERED.

  • Sentence structure.
  • The desu (です) sentence ender.
  • Omissions.
  • Name enders, (san).
  • Showing respect using "O".
  • The (wa) Particle, Stating the subject.
  • Stating names in Japanese.

PHRASES COVERED.

  • I am, (watashi).
  • My name is, (stating your name).
  • Nice to meet you, (introducing yourself).
  • I am from, (stating your nationality and birthplace).

JAPANESE SENTENCE STRUCTURE.

VERB PLACEMENT.

Before learning Japanese I didn't think sentence structure could change. Turns it does… One key rule in Japanese is how the verb is placed last in a sentence.

See example to compare English to Japanese.

It may seem odd at first structuring your sentences this way. However, this is a new language so new rules. It's supposed to feel weird right? Here are some basic examples to help you adjust your mindset.

VERB AT END
  • I car (DROVE).
  • I cup (WASHED).
  • I bike (RODE).
ENGLISHJAPANESE
I (ATE) sushi.
I sushi (ATE).
R: Sushi wo (tabemashita).
K: 寿司を食(べました).
H: すしをた(べました).

OMISSION.

Omission is the removal of unnecessary words within a sentence. Turns out in Japanese this is very common. This rule applies within spoken conversation rather than written content. How do we know what words are unnecessary? in Japanese, the context of the situation does a lot of the talking.

The most common use of Japanese omission would be to remove the subject of a sentence, such as (I, you, he, she...) In Japanese, if I was to ask you what is YOUR name? To respond you would just need to say your name, not my name is... As YOU were asked specifically, YOU as the subject would already be implied through context.

See (example one).

As you continue to learn Japanese when you read examples and feel like there is a word or two missing from the translation. This is omission at work!

EXAMPLE ONE - OMITTING THE SUBJECT.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR NAME?A: (MY NAME IS) KYLE.
R: onamae wa nan desu ka?
K: お名前は何ですか?
H: おなまえはなんですか?
R: kyle desu.
K: カイルです.
H: かいるです.
COMMON USES OF OMISSION.

(Bracketed words) are omitted from the Japanese translations.

#1 - (MY NAME IS) KYLE.
R: Kyle desu.
K: カイルです.
H: かいる です.
#2 - ( I ) EAT SUSHI.
R: sushi wo tabemasu.
K: 寿司を食べます.
H: すしをたべます.
#3A - Q: WHERE DID (YOU) GO TODAY?
kyo wa doko ni ikimashita?
今日はどこに行きましたか?
きょうはどこ に いきました か?
#3B - A: (TODAY, I WENT TO A) MANGA CAFE.
R: manga kissa desu.
K: マンガ喫茶です.
H: まんがきっさです.

JAPANESE SENTENCE & NAME ENDERS.

SENTENCE ENDER - DESU (です).

If you are like me you may be scratching your head asking "why do I keep seeing desu (です) at the end of so many sentences!?" Desu (です) happens to be what is known as a Japanese sentence ender. These are small words placed at the end of a sentence adding a specific level of politeness or meaning.

The Japanese language is all about politeness, so get used to it!

Let's stick with desu (です) for now. As a general rule, desu (です) usually follows a noun or an adjective. Not only does it help you sound more polite, it also means the following.

  • Am, to be. As in, I (am) Kyle.
  • Is, it is. As in, this (is) an apple.

See examples.

EXAMPLE ONE.
I (AM) KYLE.
R: watashi wa Kyle (desu).
K: 私はカイル (です).
H: わたしはかいる (です).
EXAMPLE TWO.
THIS (IS) AN APPLE.
R: kore wa ringo (desu).
K: これはリンゴ (です).
H: これはりんご (です).

NAME ENDERS - SAN (さん).

In Japanese when saying someone's name (first or last) you will always add what's known as a name ender. If you don't do this you can be taken as rude, so make this a habit! Name enders are simply an additional word tagged onto one's name to address them politely. However, never use a name ender when stating YOUR name unless you want to look like a fool.

See chart for common Japanese name enders.

San (さん) covered in Duolingo can be used in most situations safely. In my opinion, it's the "goldilocks" of all name enders. Not too polite, not impolite, just right… So make a habit when addressing one by name to add san (さん) at the end.

COMMON JAPANESE NAME ENDERS.
NAME ENDERMEANING
San - (さん).
Mr or Mrs.
Chan - (ちゃん).Child or young girl.
Kun - (くん).Younger man.
Sama - (さま).Highest of respect.

SHOWING RESPECT WITH (O, お).

"O" - RESPECT, JUST A LITTLE BIT.

Remember when I said Japanese is all about respect and politeness…. Here is a perfect example.

You will notice many Japanese words starting with O (お). You may also hear the same words spoken without the additional O (お) in front. So what is this mysterious O (お)? You can think of this as a reverse sentence ender, kind of.

When an O (お) is placed in front of a word it adds more respect towards this item.

See example one.

Both of the demonstrated phrases mean the same thing, one is just more polite.

EXAMPLE ONE.
ARE YOU WELL? (POLITE).ARE YOU WELL? (CASUAL).
R: Ogenki desuka?
K: (お) 元気ですか?
H: (お) げんきですか?
R: Genki desuka?
K: 元気ですか?
H: げんきですか?
ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES.
COMMON JAPANESE WORDS STARTING WITH O (お).
Money.Okane.
(お)かね.
Wallet.Osaifu.
(お)さいふ.
Water.Omizu.
(お)みず.
Sushi.Osushi.
(お)すし.
Butt.Oshiro.
(お)しり.

JAPANESE PARTICLES ( WA, は ).

WHAT ARE JAPANESE PARTICLES?

Particles, often referred to as markers are a massive subject within Japanese. In short, they are used to mark specific words within a sentence to a direct meaning or correlation between other words in the sentence. Yes, it sounds complicated and it is. The good news is you only need to learn a few simple particles to understand how they work. 

This section sneakily teaches us the wa (は) particle. Used to mark the main subject of the sentence.

See examples.

I look forward to the introduction of more Japanese particles throughout Duolingo, but for now, we have wa (は).

STATING THE SUBJECT WITH WA (は).
I (AM) A STUDENT.JOHN (IS) AMERICAN.
R: Watashi (wa) gakusei desu.
K: 私 (は) 学生です.
H: わたし (は) がくせいです.
R: John san (wa) America jin desu.
K: ジョンさん (は) アメリカ人です.
H: じょんさん (は) あめりかじん です.
SPECIAL NOTE.

The hiragana character used to write the wa (は) particle is the character ha (は). Keep in mind when you see the ha (は) character used as a particle it is pronounced as wa (は).

JAPANESE WRITING.

KATAKANA & KANJI.

Within this section you will quickly realize that aside from the Hiragana you had learned, Katakana and Kanji characters are now thrown at you.

KATAKANA (カタカナ).

Katakana includes all the same sounds as Hiragana they just have a new look, a bad attitude! So why use them? Katakana is used to write what is known as (borrowed words). Words originating from other countries and languages. Such as the following examples,

CANADA.AMERICA.COMPUTER.JUICE.TAXI.
R: Kanada.
K: カナダ.
H: かなだ.
R: Amerika.
K: アメリア.
H: あめりか.
R: Konpyūtā.
K: コンピューター.
H: こんぴゅーたー.
R: Jūsu.
K: ジュース.
H: じゅーす.
R: Takushī
K: タクシ ー.
H: たくしー.
KANJI (漢字).

When it comes to Kanji this one is a whole new world, be patient and give it time. These characters are complex symbols with direct meanings. Often a single character can even have multiple translations. Japan commonly uses Kanji on important signs in public such as washrooms, exits, and so on. I highly suggest learning the basics as it will greatly help if you ever wish to visit Japan, read a manga, or watch a Japanese movie. I recommend each of the following :).

PHRASES & VOCABULARY.

SECTION KEYWORDS.

IPersonBirth PlaceStudentNice To Meet YouCool
Watashi.
私.
わたし.
Hito, Ninn, Jin.
人.
ひと, にん, じん.
Shusshin.
出身.
しゅっしん.
Gakusei.
学生.
がくせい.
Hajimemashite.
初めまして.
はじめまして.
Kakkoii.
カッコいい, 格好良い.
かっこいい.

I, ME (Watashi - わたし- 私).

There are multiple ways to say I in Japanese. The most common version taught to beginners is watashi (私). Watashi (私) can be used by males or females in most situations. However, you may notice males often referring to themselves using the term boku (僕) also meaning I. Let's stick with watashi (私) for now as this is what Duolingo currently teaches us.

See examples.
EXAMPLE ONE - ( I ) AM A STUDENT.
  • R: (Watashi) wa gakusei desu.
  • K: () は学生です.
  • H: (わたし) は がくせい です.
EXAMPLE TWO - ( I ) AM COOL.
  • R: (Watashi) wa kakkoii desu!
  • K: () はカッコイイです!
  • H: (わたし) は かっこいい です!

STATING YOUR NAME IN JAPANESE.

When it comes to stating your name in Japanese, there are two ways taught within this section. Let's take a look at why and when to use each one.

VERSION ONE - (NAME) + DESU.

I'm (Name).

This one is really easy, state your name and follow it with desu (です). This phrase can be used in most casual situations. However, if you wish to be more formal use version 2 covered below.

See example one.
EXAMPLE ONE - I'M (KYLE).
  • R: (Kyle) desu.
  • K: (カイル) です.
  • H: (かいる) です.

Notice how this phrase isn't, watashi wa Kyle desu. As in, I am Kyle. In Japanese when someone ask's for YOUR name you don’t need to restate MY NAME is. As that’s already understood in context. Thanks to omission this phrase is shorter and easier to remember.

VERSION TWO - (NAME) + TO MOUSHIMASU.

My Name Is (NAME).

This one is a bit longer and is to be used when you wish to come across more politely. You may notice I am covering this phrase slightly differently than in Duolingo (to iimasu). This is based on my native Japanese guide's recommendation. Chisa had mentioned this version is more polite and commonly spoken in Japan. I’ll take her word for it!

See example two.
EXAMPLE TWO - MY NAME IS (KYLE).

DUOLINGO VERSION - (NAME) + TO IIMASU.

  • (Kyle) to iimasu.
  • (カイル) + と言います.
  • (かいる) + といいます.

JAPPON VERSION - (NAME) + TO MOUSHIMASU. 

  • (Kyle) to moushimasu.
  • (カイル) + と申します.
  • (かいる) + ともうします.

NICE TO MEET YOU.

VERSION ONE - HAJIMEMASHITE (初めまして).

Hajimemashite is the most commonly used phrase to say nice to meet you. It’s a versatile phrase that is used in many different situations. This time, it means “Nice to meet you”. We will cover more on this later.

Hajimemashite consists of the verb Hajimeru, meaning to begin. As in let's begin our nice friendship… This phrase can be used in polite or semi-casual situations. However, if you wish to be extra respectful when greeting use version two below.

See example one.
EXAMPLE ONE.

CASUAL, SEMI-CASUAL.

Nice to meet you, I’m Kyle.

  • R: Hajimemashite Kyle Desu.
  • K: 初めましてカイルです.
  • H: はじめましてかいる です.

SEMI-CASUAL, POLITE.

Nice to meet you, my name is Kyle.

  • H: Hajimemashite (Kyle) to moushimasu.
  • K: 初めまして (Kyle) と申します.
  • H: はじめまして (Kyle) ともうします.
VERSION TWO - DOUZO YOROSHIKU ONEGAISHIMASU.

Wow, what a mouthful… This phrase is used when you need to present yourself formally with great respect. Such as in a business meeting or with an elderly. What's confusing about this phrase is the literal translation does NOT mean nice to meet. It means something more along the lines of "please treat me well." BUT it can be used after the phrase Hajimemashite (はじめまして - nice to meet you).”

This phrase comes in many broken up forms which you can see in the provided examples. I will warn you, the literal translations won't make much sense. So try to remember each variation in terms of formality rather than direct meaning.

See example two.
EXAMPLE TWO.

CASUAL.

(Used ONLY with someone very close or younger than you are).

Meaning: Please and thank you.

  • R: Douzo yoroshiku.
  • H: どうぞよろしく.

SEMI-FORMAL.

Meaning: Please treat me / my belongings kindly.

  • R: Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
  • K: よろしくお願いします.
  • H: よろしく おねがいします.

VERY FORMAL.

Meaning: Pleased to meet you.

  • R: Douzo Yorushiko Onegaishimasu.
  • K: どうぞよろしくお願いします.
  • H: どうぞ よろしく おねがいします.
PHRASE BREAKDOWN.
  • Douzo, どうぞ, Please, go ahead.
  • Yoroshiku, よろしく, Okay, fine, well.
  • Onegaishimasu, おねがいします, Please when asking a favor. Such as please bring me the menu.

I AM FROM (LOCATION).

The last two phrases covered in this section are quite similar in meaning, causing me to struggle in understanding the differences between them. Let's look at each phrase to figure this out!

PHRASE ONE - I AM FROM (BIRTHPLACE).

Canada Shusshin (出身) desu, is used to state your location of birth, as in to say I am from Canada.

See example one.
EXAMPLE ONE.

I AM FROM CANADA.

  • R: (Canada) Shusshin desu.
  • K: (カナダ)出身です.
  • H: (かなだ)しゅっしん です.
PHRASE TWO - I AM A (NATIONALITY).

Canada Jin (人) Desu, this phrase states your nationality, such as I am a Canadian, American, and so on. Jin (人) means person, so technically you are saying I am a Canadian person.

See example two.
EXAMPLE TWO.

I am a (Canadian).

  • R: (Canada) Jin Desu.
  • K: (カナダ) 人です.
  • H: (かなだ) じん です.

CONCLUSION

If all this has left you confused. Keep in mind this is the beginning of your journey exploring and understanding a new language. Until you get used to the differences in the way Japanese works it will be confusing! Just trust if you keep moving forward in Duolingo and this series, it will provide you with daily repetitious exposure to all of this. Solidifying all this knowledge deep into your memory… At least that’s the plan ;).

JAPANESE GUIDE TIPS.

Video times for each answer provided below.

Q: Can you give an example of Japanese omissions?

  • A: located at (01:54).

Q: What would a Japanese think if I stated my name using a name ender like san?

  • A: located at (03:07).

Q: What does hajimemashite mean?

  • A: located at (05:46).

Q: Whats does douzo yorushiku mean?

  • A: located at (06:07).

Q: What does watashi wa (name) desu mean?

  • A: located at (07:10).

Q: How would you state your name in Japanese?

  • A: located at (07:36).

Q: How to state where you are from in Japanese?

  • A: located at (08:02).

COMING UP NEXT - INTRO TWO.

Leave your comments or questions below, share this series with others trying to learn Japanese.

Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) for reading!

Posted in Duolingo.

Determined to learn Japanese to keep up with my international family.

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